Jo Anne Embleton
Jacksonville Daily Progress
When Cathryn Davis made her debut, she weighed in at three-and-a-half pounds, arriving prematurely after her mother went into labor after falling down a flight of steps.
“The doctor told my mother and daddy, 'She's not going to live,'” Davis said, but she proved the physician wrong: On Wednesday, she celebrated her 100th birthday with family and fellow residents of Bonner Street Plaza senior living facility.
“I had a wonderful mother that nurtured me all my childhood, I've been a healthy person – I've never had any serious illness,” she said, adding, “the good Lord had different ideas.”
She credits a strong faith as the key to a long life.
“Stay with the Lord and take the word of God” to heart, Davis said.
Jacksonville Mayor Kenneth Melvin was among those helping celebrate Davis's centennial birthday, and presented her with a certificate of recognition.
“We sincerely wish you only the best on your special day of celebration,” he said, then added, “happy birthday to you, sweetheart.”
According to her daughter Mary Cathryn Bolen, Davis was born Oct. 9, 1913 in Hubbard, the only child of R.W. and Lucille White, who were from Dialville.
Bolen recounted the stories she heard about her mother's birth, about how the preemie was so small, she slept in a flannel-lined shoebox.
“The doctor said to feed her mineral-lime water and keep her warm, so they would bank the fire at night, push the coals to the back of the fireplace and put Mother's box (toward the front) for her to stay warm, and during the day, they put her in the windowsill in the sunlight,” Bolen said. “She was barely ready to survive – and did she ever survive.”
Bolen's grandfather worked for Western Union as a telegrapher, while her grandmother was a bookkeeper. His work took the little family away from Cherokee County, but eventually, they returned when he was offered an assignment at the Liberty Hotel in Jacksonville.
In 1930, Cathryn married Edwin Davis, who served in the Navy during World War II, then managed Andrews Lumber Company, while Cathryn – who received a bachelor's degree from Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth and a master's degree from Stephen F. Austin State University – became an educator with the Jacksonville and New Summerfield school districts, teaching English language arts at different levels of the district programs.
“I loved every day I taught, I loved all my kiddos,” she said, then described how a one-year contract with the New Summerfield schools grew into a career.
“I went there for one year and stayed 24,” she said. I went to relieve Margaret McCown, because she was on a year's leave of absence. I went to take her place for one year, but I stayed 24!”
The couple were married 74 years and had two children: Son Paul is a retired United Airlines pilot, while their daughter Mary Cathryn is a librarian with Richardson ISD.
Davis was widowed when her husband passed away in 2004.